PURPOSE: Obesity has been associated with obstructive sleep apnea and hepatic steatosis. We investigated the effects of obstructive sleep apnea and treatment with nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) on serum aminotransferase levels in obese patients. METHODS: We studied 40 obese men with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. None had hepatitis B antigen or C antibody, autoimmune disease, or an excessive intake of alcohol. Serum levels of aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, triglyceride, glucose, insulin, and leptin were determined in the afternoon and in the morning immediately after sleep, before and after nasal CPAP treatment. RESULTS: Aminotransferase levels were abnormal in 35% (n = 14) of patients. Before treatment, mean (± SD) aspartate aminotransferase levels were higher in the morning than in the previous afternoon (presleep, 34 ± 20 IU/L; postsleep, 39 ± 28 IU/L; P = 0.006). The overnight mean increases in aminotransferase levels were less marked after the first night of nasal CPAP treatment (aspartate aminotransferase: from 6 ± 11 IU/L to 2 ± 6 IU/L, P = 0.0003; alanine aminotransferase: from 5 ± 9 IU/L to 2 ± 6 IU/L, P = 0.006). Leptin levels (n = 23) decreased significantly after treatment (P = 0.0002), whereas insulin resistance (calculated by the homeostasis model assessment method) and triglyceride levels were unchanged. Improvements in aspartate and alanine aminotransferase levels were maintained after 1 and 6 months of nasal CPAP treatment. CONCLUSION: Nasal CPAP therapy may have beneficial effects on serum aminotransferase abnormalities in obese patients who have obstructive sleep apnea.
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